The art of matching images to words

Getting the text-picture relationship right can be as important as the content creation itself

They say a picture speaks a thousand words, and that may well be true. But is it speaking the ‘right’ words? We all want our copy to pack a punch – to be informative, persuasive, instructional, emotional, whatever we’re aiming for. And we know that pairing compelling content creation with striking images is an effective way to reinforce the message and capture our audience’s imagination. But to achieve the right results, you have to get the balance right.

Imagine you’re reading a glossy company brochure. It tells you about a business, its values, its vision and gives a basic outline of what the organisation does. Now, imagine the brochure is filled with technical diagrams of the company’s most complex products. Huh? What are these images supposed to tell you about the corporate philosophy? Similarly, if you opened up a technical specification sheet to see stock imagery of children running through a meadow, you’d be equally confused.

That’s not to say that technical diagrams and emotive images don’t have their place in marketing, quite the contrary – but it’s a specific place to fulfil a specific purpose.

What makes a picture perfect?

We are often tasked with creating marketing assets that include both text and pictures – brochures and other offline materials, websites, social media posts, animations – to name just a few. In fact, the vast majority of the projects we work on have a visual element to them. But selecting or shooting images that support the story is an art in itself.

To complete this task, we need to consider what we are trying to convey. How do we want people to think, feel or act as a result of reading the copy? Does the chosen imagery reflect these aims and does it match the sentiment and tonality of the words?

Other important things to keep in mind are the cultural context (where will the images be used? Will they resonate with the target audience?); the corporate voice and established identity (do the pictures harmonize with the brand?); and originality (is the photography unique and appealing? Does it give the viewer an interesting or striking perspective on the world?).

Once we have found a key visual that fits these requirements and gained the thumbs-up from the customer, we can set about building a portfolio of images that capture and communicate the message.

This is just a snapshot of the complexity and decisions involved in choosing the right pictures. If you’d like to know more, or share your own ideas for creating great combinations of copy and images, get in touch. We’d love to hear your ideas – or why not share your favourite examples?

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